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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  September 4, 2014 11:45am-11:51am EDT

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1812. some of these actually came about after the war, not necessarily during the war. let's go ahead and jump in and tackle this thing. i wanted to acknowledge there's already been a book that's been done by don hickey. you heard from don this morning. he was the first speaker. he did an excellent job. he's done a whole book on the myths of the war of 1812. this is the cover page for it. in it, he has a quote and i will read it. the war of 1812 is a conflict that carries an unduly heavy burden of mythology. much of it propagated by 19th century historians and arriving from chauvinism. i would like to add to that, many scholars, writers, historia historians, teachers, professors were continuing to propagate that. we are never going to be able to get rid of these myths and
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misunderstandings of history. it's a part of fabric. it behooves us to try to know what are the colonels of truth. that's why i enjoyed holly's paper. she helped us understand the myths behind dolley madison. the first question, did the british really burn washington? i'm going to start out in a peculiar way. i am showing you the actual logo and title of this very symposium. i'll just read it to you. america under fire. mr. madison's war in the burning of washington city. one of the very myths i want to talk about today. i'm going to go off on a tangent and you'll understand why. if you look at the artwork, the image that is there, and if you remember during dinner last night, bill seal talked about the burning of the white house. he mentioned that some of the
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british sailors and soldiers had javelins wrapped in rags, soaked with oil. on the command by the officer you can see on the right hand side, when he fired a pistol, they all simultaneously, supposedly threw these javelins through the broken windows of the upper level of the white house to set it on fire. now, this is an account. it exists. i ask you, is it real? because when i think about that, i have a lot of questions about it. number one, would the british have actually carried javelins from their landing at benedict? i don't think that's very likely. but, it is likely that the british were carrying pikes, an anti-boarding weapon that was used by sailors and we know at the battle of cox field, which
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took place a few days earlier from now, 200 years ago, they just had a big celebration august 31st, we know there were 40 pipemen that were part of the british contingent that attacked an american unit over on the eastern shore of maryland. so, maybe it's more likely that if, in fact, this occurred, they were probably pikes. that's my guess. it's an elongated wooden handle with a sharp, metal point on the end of it. but, wouldn't it also make sense if you are going to take the time to take all of these flammables and pile them up as bill talked last evening and then put oil on them, why wouldn't you just go ahead and light it and run out of the building? this is a big deal according to this account. the only reason i'm going through this with you this morning is there are two additional accounts of how the
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british burned some of the public buildings in washington. they have different. how do we know? just like holly was talking about, how do we know what might have happened there. this happens to be an account fwi british. so, take a look at some of the book that is have been written. very good books. the first one, which is on your left is the burning of washington, the british invasion of 1814 written by anthony pitch. an excellent book. i have read it from cover-to-cover. i refer to it frequently. tony, in my opinion, did the best job up to that time that's ever been done on our understanding of what happened in washington when the british occupied washington. it's interesting he chose the title, "the burning of washington." if you look at the right hand side, this is a book not as well
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known, but also an excellent book by carol and it was published in 2005. the title of it is "august 24, 1814: flames." in both cases, you see the burning of the white house. well, there's other books as well and i can't go into all of them or we'd be here all morning. it's interesting if you go to andy tu lclly's book, "when the burned the white house," that was published in 1961. and then "the man who burned the white house" which is essentially a book by coburn. they don't talk about the burning of washington in the title. they talk about the burning of the white house and just in case

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